Library Strategic Planning Process

Library Strategic Planning Process Summary
Washington County’s 2013 Strategic Plan called for a review of the County’s model for providing library services to assure community needs are effectively being met and the county is well positioned for future opportunities and challenges. A 20-month library strategic planning process involving more than 800 people was carried out. Public participation in the form of surveys, questionnaires, forums, retreats, meetings and a public comment period resulted in a final strategic plan released in February 2016.

Strategic Plan
Strategic Plan’s Goals and Strategies
Goal 1: Deliver extraordinary programs, services, and collections

Strategy 1: Expand outreach services to underserved population
Strategy 2: Support the growth and development of youth and families.
Strategy 3: Cultivate lifelong learning opportunities for adults.
Strategy 4: Align library collections to meet changing needs.
Strategy 5: Demonstrate value and advocate for resources.

Goal 2: Expand Public Awareness of the Library

Strategy 1: Revise and refresh the Library Mission Statement.
Strategy 2: Overhaul the Library’s website.
Strategy 3: Create a three-year marketing and promotions plan.
Strategy 4: Increase dedicated marketing and promotions resources.

Goal 3: Improve Library Facilities

Strategy 1: Update existing space and plan for new facilities.
Strategy 2: Explore opportunities to rework current space to meet evolving community needs.
Strategy 3: Develop a capital improvement plan.

Goal 4: Cultivate Partnerships

Strategy 1: Create a community engagement plan which includes partnerships with area organizations, businesses, and schools.
Strategy 2: Expand use of volunteers to support and advocate for current and future library needs.
Strategy 3: Work with fundraising and advocacy groups and other community partners to increase support for the Library.

Goal 5: Serve as a Community Technology Hub

Strategy 1: Enhance public technology training opportunities
Strategy 2: Champion emergent technologies.
Strategy 3: Provide ongoing information technology training for staff.

Next Steps: Strategic Plan Implementation

With the strategic plan now complete, efforts have moved into the implementation phase. Library staff are developing and implementing action steps to assure the identified goals are met. Commissioners and staff are undertaking a review of current library facilities and functions to determine staffing level adequacy, maintenance needs and the potential need for new facilities as the county’s population continues to grow.

History of the Washington County Library Strategic Planning Process and Related Documents

The strategic planning process started with articulation of the process, structure, roles and responsibilities in fall of 2014:

Library Strategic Planning Process, Structure and Roles
Rapid Results Planning Subcommittee-Roles and Responsibilities

In December 2014, a 17-member library strategic planning stakeholder committee representing the library board, schools, cities and townships was established to guide a strategic planning process. The stakeholder group met five times over the course of a year to assist with planning, review of the drafts of the strategic plan, and community engagement. The agendas and minutes of the stakeholder meetings are below:

Stakeholder Meeting 1 December 17, 2014, Agenda and Minutes
Stakeholder Meeting 2 - February 25, 2015, Agenda and Minutes
Stakeholder Meeting 3 - June 23, 2015, Agenda and Minutes
Stakeholder Meeting 4 - Nov. 4, 2015, Agenda and Minutes
Stakeholder Meeting 5 - Nov. 16, 2015, Agenda and Minutes

This library strategic planning process involved a series of activities during 2015 designed to provide as full of a picture as possible of the current system and environment and expand understanding of potential future library scenarios. Library Strategies Consulting Group was hired to assist with certain components of the process. Those activities and final results obtained include the following:

ASSESSMENTS: Research was conducted in 2015 to gather qualitative data and assess the current library system. County commissioners were interviewed to hear about existing community needs and constituent feedback about the county library system. Two groups of Library staff were convened during June to gather and listen to visions, observations, ideas, and concerns. Further perspectives were gathered through a questionnaire of local elected officials from the county’s 33 cities and townships, a meeting with City Administrators, one-on-one meetings with school superintendents, and a community questionnaire placed on the County and Library’s website homepage posing four key questions to which anyone could respond. Library Strategies also researched national, state and local trends.

The following results were obtained:
COMMUNITY FORUMS: Over the summer, three community forums were conducted to provide early insight into community needs, concerns, and visions to inform and guide next steps and conversations of the strategic planning process. Newspaper and cable bulletin coverage announcing the forums was widespread. The forums were conducted May 27 at the Cottage Grove Service Center, June 4 at the Washington County Government Center, and July 30 at the Forest Lake Service Center. There were 85 people total in attendance at the three forums. Information from the forums can be found in the following:
SURVEY: A key component of the process was to conduct a survey of county residents. On June 5, 2015, a survey designed with stakeholder input was sent by Rainbow Research to 1,500 randomly-selected county households to provide data about library users and non-library users to inform the process. The survey closed August 25 with 392 people responding. This response level allowed estimates to be within a +-5% margin of error. The results of this survey are found in the following report:
RETREATS: Two daylong strategic planning retreats were conducted September 26 and October 10. Invitations were sent to key stakeholders and 63 community members attended. Library Strategies considered these retreats to be the keystone of their strategic plan development and facilitated these community conversations. A draft strategic plan is being created following these retreats.
REPORTS: Following the fall retreats, a facilities planning report and a draft library strategic plan containing recommended goals and strategies were completed. A six-week public comment period on the draft strategic plan was held. Comments and edits were incorporated into the final draft. On February 9, 2016, the County Board adopted 2016 Washington County Library Strategic Plan found at the top of this page.
CAPSTONE EVENT: The strategic plan was released at an event attended by various stakeholders February 29, 2016, including elected officials, city and county administrators, county library and administrative staff and library board members.